British Airways has suspended sales of short-haul flights from Heathrow for at least a week.
The decision to suspend new bookings on domestic and European services until Monday is to comply with Heathrow’s hat on passenger numbers, the airline confirmed.
In a statement, BA said: “As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we have decided to take responsible action and limit available fares on some Heathrow services to maximize rebooking options for existing customers, given the constraints placed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry.”
The unprecedented move will see thousands of chairs withdrawn from sale and potentially increase demand and drive up prices with competing companies.
Tens of thousands of flights have already been canceled this summer as the industry struggles to meet demand for air travel due to staff shortages.
Heathrow announced last month that no more than 100,000 daily departing passengers will be allowed until September 11.
BA had previously responded to Heathrow’s passenger limit by announcing it would cancel 10,300 flights to October, with one million passengers affected.
The suspension of BA’s short-haul flights from Heathrow comes after many passengers to and from the UK’s busiest airport have experienced severe disruption in recent months, with long security queues and baggage system disruptions.
Middle East airline Emirates rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to meet the limit.
The airline accused the airport of “blatant disregard for consumers” by trying to force it to “refuse seats to tens of thousands of travelers” through the cap.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said at the time it would be “disappointing” for “an airline to put profit above safe and reliable passenger travel”.
Virgin Atlantic also criticized the airport’s actions, claiming it was responsible for outages adding to the chaos.
Meanwhile, on July 21, airlines were accused of: “harmful practices” in the handling of passengers affected by disruption.
The Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority have sent a joint letter to airlines expressing concern that “consumers could suffer significant harm if airlines fail to meet their obligations”.
The letter said: “We are concerned that some airlines are not doing everything they can to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”
These include selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to supply”, not always “fullful compliance” with offering alternative airline flights to passengers affected by cancellations, and not giving consumers “sufficiently clear and direct information about their rights” “.